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Monday, June 11, 2012

The Incredible Stupidity of Being

Some days are really great...others are not.  Today was one of the others, although upon reflection, it has been a much better day than I have any right to expect.  One of my favorite quotes is from the old movie, "The Friends of Eddie Coyle", which goes: "This life's hard, man, but it's harder if you're stupid!"  Just call me stupid.

Today I did something I had promised both Gretchen and Jeff I would not do.  While she was out, I decided to trim some branches from trees near the house with my ladder and chain saw.  I don't know what got into me.  What was I thinking?  So I got out the extension ladder and proceeded to start trimming.  One of the branches was pretty far up, so I had the ladder extended so I could reach it.  Just as I cut the branch, the ladder slipped out from under me.

I'd like to think that I looked like Greg Louganis, the diver, on my way down; you know, a double gainer with back tuck.  But I suspect I looked more like a falling sack of shit.  In any case, I landed flat on my back in the grass.  I'm not sure how high I was...perhaps 10 to 12 feet off the ground.  I've often wondered what goes through peoples' minds during a fall like that.  Does their whole life pass before their eyes?  I worked it out from 1/2gt*t that it probably took about 0.8-0.9 seconds for me to hit the ground.  My life, such as it is, did not pass before my eyes.  The only thing that I  can recall thinking during that time was "Oh shit!" (How many times can you think "Oh shit!" in 0.8 seconds?)

I didn't dare try to move, not knowing if any part of my body would respond if I tried.  I might have actually passed out for a short time, as I recall seeing a beautiful grid of blue and silver stars (no, I'm not a Dallas Cowboys fan).  I wondered what that could be, and then I found myself staring at the sky.  Where am I, I wondered?  Reality quickly set back in.  I found myself nestled neatly between the ladder on my left and the chain saw on my right.  To my surprise, I discovered that I could move all my limbs.  I then reached over and shut off the chain saw, which was still running.

I staggered to my feet and checked out my range of motion.  Amazingly, everything worked!  I noticed that the pinkie on my left hand was at an odd angle, obviously dislocated.  Other than that and some pain in my left shoulder and ribs, I felt a lot better than I had any right to expect.  I wobbled into the house and called my family doctor, who took me right away.  When I got there, the nurse pointed out that I was bleeding from my forehead.  I didn't feel anything and hadn't looked in a mirror, but it appeared as if I had run into Mike Tyson in a dark alley somewhere.  Yikes!  Fortunately, those cuts were superficial.  I have no memory of how those came to be.

My family doctor didn't want to mess with my finger, so he set me up with Dr. Mattheos, an orthopaedic surgeon  in Newburyport.  After some painful manipulation, he got my pinkie back into place.  X-rays showed it wasn't broken.  However, the ring finger next to it is broken.  (That makes it a little tough to type this blog, but I'm making do.)  The amazing thing is that X-rays of my shoulder and back showed no breaks!  It's really hard for me to believe that the only thing broken during that fall is one little finger.  I would have expected something big to be fractured, especially as Multiple Myeloma weakens the bones.  I'm still shaking my head in wonder.

By then, my whole body was feeling pretty banged up, but I'm feeling somewhat better now.  It's amazing what a couple of vicodin can do (thank you, Dr. Mattheos).  Tomorrow will be the real test.  I have an appointment at DFCI at 8:00 tomorrow morning for my infusion.  I should probably let Dr. Richardson know about my little incident.  I suspect he won't be amused.

There are lessons to be learned from today's events.  I hope that I am not too stupid and stubborn to learn from this.  I got a pass today.  Next time I might not be so lucky.  Can I be smart enough in the future not to push my luck?  I can only hope so.


  1. I truly think you dodged a bullet and I'm afraid if it were Big EZ on that ladder I would be a tad bit upset. It's hard to refrain from doing "normal" jobs around the house though, especially when you don't anticipate a problem. Best wishes for quick healing on that finger!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I'm pretty sore today, so I feel like I'm paying penance for my indiscretion.

  2. All things considered, you are lucky. No major breaks and since the saw chain was still running you could had really inflicted terrible damages. I know its hard to stay away from your normal routine but... Enough said. These days when I do something foolish I always blame it on chemo. However, my wife doesn't buy this excuse anymore.
    Good luck.

    Michael W

    1. Thanks, Mike. Yeah, my excuses with my wife are running out too. I think I'd better turn over a new leaf.

  3. I think that you better get a new chainsaw with a deadman's (no pun intended) switch so that it shuts off when you drop it. Either that or admit that you are getting too old for that shit and hire a foolish young person to risk his life.


    1. The chain saw simply idles without the blade turning when the trigger is released. Fortunately, I did drop the chain saw as I fell (the only good decision I made around that time).